Last week I posted an article that pro-lifers either loved or hated. I wrote about something I’m calling “Fetus Tunnel Vision,” the inability to see and/or acknowledge human rights injustices without equating or comparing them to abortion.
I responded to a few concerns people had about it a few days ago, but there were a few more really good questions emailed to me and I wanted to share them and my answers with you.
“The problem is that sensitivity can be defined differently by every single person one is trying to reach. There are always going to be recipients who will have a negative reaction to your message no matter how ‘sensitive’ it is. You can satisfy some people sometimes but not all the people every time.”
Good point. I’m not saying that we should never say anything that somebody could call insensitive. Clearly some pro-life statements are more sensitive than others though. Maybe sometimes it’s hard to tell. I’m arguing that comparing abortion to 9/11 on the anniversary of 9/11 is clearly insensitive.
“I completely agree that making 9/11 comparisons on 9/11 is insensitive. Would you consider making such comparisons on any other day?”
Fantastic question. There are certainly scenarios where it seems less inappropriate.
For example, sometimes in a presentation where I’m training a largely pro-life audience how to defend the view that the unborn are valuable human beings worthy of protection, I may briefly talk about abortion stats and compare the daily number of abortions, 3,300, with the number killed on 9/11. I don’t think that’s inappropriate, although I waited several months after September of 2001 to do it.
Here’s another statement I’ve said in front of audiences, that involve comparing abortion to another injustice:
“Abortion is worse than almost every other social/moral issue of today when you consider the sheer numbers of those being killed, how young and vulnerable the victims are, and who is participating in their death: one or both of their parents. Only the issue of sex slavery seems to come close to the evil of abortion when you factor those things.”
I don’t think that comes across as devaluing sex slavery. I’m stating that both are incredibly evil, and why. And it’s not begging the question if I’ve made a case in front of that audience that the unborn are valuable human beings.
I think there’s a few common comparisons to abortion that I won’t be making anymore, at least for pragmatic reasons, but I’m not ready to write about that publicly yet.
“Both comparative examples you provide are horrific acts, are illegal, and are viewed (actively or not) by all sane persons with distain. Abortion is an equally horrific act, however, it is legal and is viewed by nearly half as perfectly acceptable.”
You’re right, the other injustices I pointed out were illegal and society generally agrees they are evil. (Albeit few are really doing anything to end human trafficking.) My concern is that some pro-life people never actually communicate that they grieve over human trafficking. There’s valuable common ground here that can help our audience to learn more about who we are.
“Perhaps your argument is not against these equations, but instead the frequency with which they are done with a seemingly broken moral compass? Not the what, but the how?”
You’re right, sometimes it’s not the what, but the how. I think sometimes it IS the what, but not always. For example, I had a big concern over this Aurora movie theater massacre meme that my friend Bryan made. Part of it was the “what;” he was question begging and trying to get a reaction from pro-choice people, but part of it was the “how;” he was posting it all over the place while the bodies in Aurora were still warm.
You can definitely come up with a scenario where I’m fine with the what AND the how. If a pro-life advocate who has made it clear how much they detest multiple human rights injustices links to a post or writes a Facebook note that both makes the argument that the unborn are valuable human beings AND makes a comparison to another human rights injustice, I think I would be fine with that, depending on how they handle the comparison to the other injustice. But that’s not usually what happens.
“Help me understand “begging the question” in the abortion context more clearly. Is it basing arguments on the mistaken assumption that we all embrace the truth that all human life is of utmost value?”
Begging the question is assuming your conclusion is true and using a premise that can only be true if your conclusion is true. It’s circular reasoning.
When Bryan, (who is a friend of mine and to his credit, still is after I publicly disagreed with his meme last year,) compares abortion to Aurora or that school shooting when talking to pro-choice people, he is begging the question. It’s just not as clear until you put it in a syllogism:
P1: The unborn are valuable human beings/persons.
P2: Abortion kills valuable human beings/persons.
C1/P3: Abortion is a tragedy.
P4: Society believes that 12 people killed in Aurora is a tragedy.
P5: Society does not believe that abortion is a tragedy.
C2: Society is confused.
You can only get to C2 IF P1 is true. If P1 is false, then there is no societal confusion. It would make perfect sense for people to mourn Aurora and not abortion, because only in Aurora were actual persons killed.
It’s just not persuasive to pro-choice people, although sometimes they might not be able to put their finger on why they’re not persuaded. They will just have an uneasy feeling of being duped, and/or an emotional reaction to comparing abortion to another tragedy. It looks opportunistic.
The post “Responding to more questions about my Fetus Tunnel Vision piece” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.com. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”